Badminton ace Leani Ratri Oktila proud to represent Indonesia as triple crown becomes tantilising prospect

Three-time world champion taking it ‘day by day’ in bid for historic gold; badminton making its Paralympic bow at Tokyo 2020 with doubles and singles action heating up at the Yoyogi National Stadium.

Picture by Parabadmintonphoto/BWF

Indonesia’s three-time world champion Leani Ratri Oktila is keeping her feet firmly grounded in Tokyo.

The 30-year-old serial-winner has medaled at all three badminton disciplines since she made her international debut in 2014.

Whether in singles, doubles or mixed doubles, Oktila has won them all: twelve golds, four silvers and two bronzes amassed at world championships, ASEAN and Asian Para Games.

But there are now three medals missing from her collection.

Included in the Paralympic programme for the first time, badminton has made its long-awaited debut at Tokyo 2020 with medals to be awarded in all three disciplines at the city’s Yoyogi National Stadium.

Oktila is competing in all three, making a triple crown at the Paralympics a thrilling possibility.

Oktila 1
Picture by Parabadmintonphoto/BWF

Warming-up in straight-sets

Oktila has already powered through her opening matches to record straight-set wins over Japan, Thailand and Germany in the SL3-SU5 doubles and mixed doubles, as well as clinch a straight-sets win over teammate Sadiyah Khalimatus in the SL4 singles at Tokyo 2020.

But with expectation and anticipation rising, the 2018 and 2019 Para badminton player of the year has downplayed the historic significance of the moment and has only one mantra: one match at a time.

“This is the first time [the sport has been included in] the Paralympics so I already feel good for the Games,” she said after her opening win over hosts Japan. “I really want to get the gold, but I will try to not be too ambitious about it.

“I feel [the first win at Tokyo] was just like any other Games that I ever played.”

I will follow one game to another game and go for it.

Adapting to athlete life in Tokyo

Her hesitancy might be rooted in the fact Indonesia won only one medal at Rio 2016, with powerlifter Ni Nengah Widiasih clinching bronze to push the country up to 76th in the medal table.

For Tokyo, expectation has shifted and the country has set a target of being in the top 60, with one gold.

The nation has yet to top the podium at Tokyo but with badminton now part of the daily schedule Oktila represents one of their best chances for them to be there, especially with a potential semi-final in the women's singles now in sight if she can beat France's Faustine Noel on Friday.

And with support from back home, it is an opportunity she relishes as the competition heats up.

"I actually feel motivated by Indonesians to be at the Games," she said. "I feel happy and proud to represent Indonesia in the first Para badminton [tournament]."

When is Leani Ratri Oktila next competing?

Friday 3 September - Women's doubles v ITO Noriko / SUZUKI Ayako 16:00 JST

Friday 3 September - Women's singles v Faustine Noel (FRA) 19:20 JST